Alumni Spotlight: Joe Welch

WelchDr. Joe Welch, a 2009 graduate and Meridian Scholar of SIUE, is a highly active performer and teacher.  He recently accompanied Christine Brewer at The Sheldon for the fifth annual Arts & Faith St. Louis concert, which will air on PBS.  On November 12, he will perform Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the McKendree University Wind Ensemble.

Dr. Welch’s fondest memories of SIUE are late night practice sessions followed by trips to Buffalo Wild Wings.  He remembers how close the piano studio was and the great friends he made.  He also enjoyed Piano Pedagogy with Dr. Chin and classmates Jessica Anderson and Kris Pineda.  This class and his experience teaching in the Keyboard Development Program were great foundations for a career in music and education.

After graduating from SIUE, Dr. Welch moved to Minneapolis, where he studied with Timothy Lovelace and Noriko Kawai.  The School of Music awarded him a grant to travel to several universities where he studied the design and implementation of collaborative piano programs.  His thesis, Collaborative Piano in Higher Education, is the culmination of the interviews and observations from these trips and includes his own reflection on program design.  While in Minnesota, Dr. Welch served as fortepianist for the recits in a production of Così fan tutte, worked alongside composer-librettist team Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein on a production of their Grammy Award-winning opera Elmer Gantry and the workshopping of their new opera Sister Carrie, and arranged and recorded the soundtrack for the University President’s Winter Greetings e-card.

After finishing his DMA in Collaborative Piano and Vocal Coaching in 2013 at the University of Minnesota, he moved back to the Edwardsville area, establishing himself as an in-demand coach and pianist.  Dr. Welch currently teaches applied piano and assorted classes at McKendree University, Blackburn College, and St. Charles Community College.  He has served as pianist, coach, and conductor for the Midwest Institute of Opera (Normal, IL) since its first season in 2011.  Additional opera credits include music directing a program of three one-acts for Marble City Opera (Knoxville, TN) and several productions at SIUE.  He also serves as a coach for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artist in Training “Spring Training” program.

Recent performances with Heartland Symphony Orchestra (Little Falls, MN) include Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.  His education-outreach presentation about Rachmaninoff reached over 1500 students of all ages leading up to his most recent concerto performance.  His work with SIUE’s “Opera-tion Arts!” has connected him with southern Illinois schools.  Cultivation of these relationships led to an innovative recital incorporating actors, a juggler, an acrobat, a band, and school presentations for a kid-friendly carnival program that served as a fundraiser for St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Family Care Fund.  Through his work at MIO, he also had the opportunity to conduct the MIOperatunities performance of Bizet’s Carmen.

Joe’s concern for the career preparation of young musicians led him to create and administrate “The Business of Being a Pianist”, a week-long workshop designed to prepare pianists for life as a career musician.  With presentations, master classes, and Q&A panels, the workshop was well attended and received.

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